Daryl L. Hunter, All About Photography

Photography According to me

In my years of giving half-day wildlife safari and photo tours I have learned to convey essential basic photography skills if a very short amount of time.  I have boilded process down to simplicity, and many appreciate it. too many try to impress their students with their wide bredth of knowledge, I simply want folks to understand how simple photography can be.

We spent the last week learning all about the basics of photography, from the way your camera works to composing your photos to editing them in post. Here's the complete guide, along with a PDF of all the lessons and some additional resources fo learning more.

Click the lesson title to view the lesson—it's a link!

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide
Part I: Understanding How Your Digital Camera Works

With so many cameras available, figuring out how all the specifications and options translate into your everyday use is complicated. For our first lesson in the Basics of Photography, we learn how cameras work and make sense of what that means in terms of choosing a camera to buy and how that choice affects your photographs.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide
Part II: Your Camera's Automatic and Assisted Settings

In this lesson we take a look at your camera's various assisted and automatic settings.

Basics of Photography:

In this lesson we take away our handicap and jump into the fun stuff: manual mode. We look at the details of shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, as well as how those settings affect your photos.

A well-composed photograph is really a matter of opinion, but there are a few tricks that tend to result in better pictures. That's what we take a look at in this lesson.

We look at the final step: editing your images. We try different kinds of techniques for color correction, touch ups, and a few other fun effects.

If you want to learn more about digital photography, there are plenty of resources to help you out. We've broken them up into three sections so you can focus on the resources that are most appropriate for your needs.

Understanding the Way Your camera Works

Guide to Digital Cameras will take you through every little thing your camera can possibly do. If you still don't have a digital camera yet, this guide also contains a ton of advice on what to buy based on your needs and intended use.

Offers up a lot of information, ranging from the basic to more complex. This site will teach you simple things, like holding your camera properly, as well as more complex things, like exposure bracketing.

Composing Better Photographs

Free lessons to help you shoot better photos.
This short course on Digital Desktop Studio Photography will teach you all about photographing objects in a controlled studio environment. It's pretty much something anyone can do on their desk (hence the name).
Best Photo Lessons contains a bunch of basic lessons on the principles of photography, including a few things we didn't cover.

Photography is capturing light which is exposure

When we forfeit our choice to shoot on manual we are outsourcing our thinking to a computer. Camera computers are great but they factor input to achieve an average – we don’t want average.

In photography, exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the camera sensor during the process of taking a photo. This requires that a finite quantity of light reaches it so the photo is sufficiently exposed.

There are several ways to achieve the same amount of light to achieve good exposure.

Quantity of light = X

X = time value + aperture value

Time value and aperture value are your variables and each has a cost and benefit. Your subject will dictate your priority of selection

Aperture value is how big the lens opening is on your camera  F 5/6 – F8 – F11 etc., the higher the number the smaller the hole that lets in the light.

When you have a big hole (aperture) you can use a higher shutter speed to stop action, the price is less depth of field. Depth of Field – depth of field (DOF) is the portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image.
A smaller aperture requires a slower speed and often a tripod to keep the camera steady; the risk is a blurred photo. Conversely a large aperture facilitates shorter shutter speeds to stop action, the price is less depth of field.

Time Value = Shutter speed, the higher the number the faster the shutter. When shooting with a telephoto as we do for wildlife you will want a high shutter speed. A rule of thumb is to match your shutter speed to the length of you lens. A 300mm telephoto would need a minimum of 1/300 of a second. I try to double that when possible.

For sports and wildlife you need to stop action so you would want a fast shutter speed which normally requires a large aperture hole, which dictates a small number like F5/6.

For shooting scenics maximum depth of field is desirable dictating the smallest possible aperture   and a slow shutter speed. When the shutter speed gets below 1/60 it becomes necessary to us a tripod to prevent camera shake.

Now the curve ball - ISO

ISO stands for the International Standards Organization and the numbers are the camera’s sensitivity setting for light. The lower the ISO the better saturation your photos will receive but when the light diminishes increase the ISO setting only as much as you need to achieve the minimum shutter speed mandated by the shooting situation.  I hate to exceed 1200 ISO as it introduces noise (missing pixels) to your photo. Use high ISO’s with caution and with lower expectations.

For those of you that used to shoot film high ISO/ASA settings don’t penalize your photos as much as they did back in the film days. Use them as needed.

The case for shooting RAW

Like a photographic negative, a raw digital file has a wider dynamic range or than your JPG choice and it preserves most of the information of the captured image. The purpose of raw image formats is to save, with minimum loss of information, data obtained from the sensor.

Raw files retain all original data therefore in the future you can go back to the RAW file when you are more proficient in post processing and readjust the file.  Conversely JPG files are processed in your camera and as soon as your camera’s computer computes your averaged image, the computer throws all information the computer deems unnecessary away never to be available again.